Source: (2001) Paper presented at Fifth National Conference on Family and Community Violence Prevention, April 9, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Downloaded 26 January 2005.

Conferencing is a restorative justice process based mainly on the practices of the Maori people of New Zealand. Conferences are similar to many indigenous people’s practices including Africans, Hawaiians, and North American Indians. Conferencing is a group process for conflict resolution used when someone who has harmed others, admits wrongdoing. Western governments are using conferencing in criminal and child protective services cases. There are different conference models including family group conferencing, community conferencing, restorative conferencing, family group decision making, and Real Justice conferences. At conferences, offenders and those most hurt by specific incidents of wrongdoing gather in a circle to discuss how they have been affected by the event and collectively decide how to repair the harm and make things right. Conferences are based on the assumption that crime damages relationships between people. The goals of conferencing are to meet the needs of people hurt by crime by providing them with a process for expressing how they have been affected and how things can be made right. Unlike traditional autocratic and adversarial Western justice systems, conferencing uses consensus and cooperation for decision making. Conferencing can build community by bringing people together who have been harmed by repairing relationships and building new ones where none existed prior to the crime. Author's abstract.


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